This is review number two hundred and sixty four. This show is part of the Fall 2013 lineup. I’ve significantly slowed down in my reviews but I guess it’s time to go on overdrive. Let’s see if I can dust off the Fall lineup before April ends. In the meantime, I’ll be reviewing this show called Unbreakable Machine Doll. It’s a twelve episode anime about a boy and his highly sexualized automaton robot. Oh, and there are also a bunch of cute girls and some fighting. Let’s read on.
This anime is about a boy named Raishin Akabane. He is a transfer student attending the Walpurgis Machinart Academy. He didn’t come here to study. He came to this place, with his automaton, for revenge. He plans to enter the school’s “Evening Party” hoping to meet the person he wants to kill. This Evening Party is a serious event though that grants the winner the title “Wiseman” that gives you fame, money and a lot more things that comes with a prestigious title. That means that a lot of the participants really want to win. Raishin is confident he can enter the Evening Party, get his revenge and win even though he tanked his exam and is now considered the second worst student of the academy.
Taking the Pants Off
This anime is a good example of a really entertaining light novel getting churned out into a less enjoyable anime. It was adapted in a way that was a bit hard to watch but it was still able to deliver a wonderful payoff in the end. I’m on the fence with this show. I personally like it but I can tell that the various negative elements of the show did do a lot of damage overall. The premise alone is pretty interesting. In the 20thy century, people are using magic to power robots and use them in the army. There is now a school that teaches you how to be a great puppeteer and our main character is enrolled in this school. He’ll meet a bunch of students, they’ll fight with their awesome robots and it seems straight forward at best. Of course, this show isn’t that simple. This anime is also a tale about government conspiracies, politics, a harem of girls, secret Oriental spies, shady underground experiments that require human subjects and panty shots. Lots and lots of panty shots. Basically, it’s your typical clusterf*ck of a show. This show starts out simple enough then somehow goes a bit iffy with how it progresses the story. It’s one of those shows that require the audience to catch up with it. It glosses over certain parts of the story asking you to fill in the blanks. It changes the focus of the story a lot. A simple tournament structured show spins off into a show about questioning human morality and a revenge story with a steamy love story on the side. This is not really a bad show. The things you can follow about the story is easy to like and the characters really carry the show. It’s just a messy convoluted show that requires a lot of effort to truly enjoy. I stayed for the boobs though. You can’t go wrong with that.
The story starts out pretty normally. Our main character enters the school, tries to find a way to get into the Evening Party and eventually picks a fight with a strong student. The biggest appeal of the story at this point is the engaging interaction between Raishin and his automaton, Yaya. It’s clichéd but there is enough flirting and fan service to keep us watching. This helps because the story starts to go complex from here. The main premise of a bunch of people with magical powers ordering their robot around to fight each other seems like an easy enough plot to work with. After the first episode though, you get a feeling that the show is more than that. Sure, the show feels like its structured pretty normally but it isn’t. There’s a good chance you’ll be overwhelmed by it. I certainly was. You see, the show does have a main story to work with. In each episode, we see this progress. Raishin tries to enter the Evening Party. He will fight a bunch of strong characters and just work his way up from the bottom. This is not the sole focus of the anime though. This show has a main story and then three individual arcs that have its own story to tell. So, its four stories told in a twelve episode anime. I think you understand what the problem is by now. The show tried to make sense of it all but there are just certain things you can’t overcome. Four stories in such a short amount of time will end up in a huge mess and the audience is asked to hopefully follow along.
The show has three arcs told in four episodes each. This is related to the Evening party main story but the arcs have their own subplots to follow. You’ll often notice how often the anime wanders off from its intended goal and that’s because it’s about to enter a new arc. This happened in the first few episodes of the show. The first episode sets up the Evening party story and how awesome automatons are. The following episodes are about the various flirting Raishin had with this tsundere with blonde hair. It was focused way too much until I realized we’ve entered an arc. We’ve entered the first arc and it’s about the blonde hair tsundere of the show, Charlotte Belew. Actually, the first arc is about a string of automaton murders that happen on campus. There’ll be sights of poor robots with their hearts ripped off from their body and a crime scene that indicates that they had no chance to fight back. Raishin was approached by a disciplinary committee member to help investigate the string of robot murders. He was ruled out as the culprit because he is a newly transferred student with no way to know of what goes on in the campus. Raishin agreed. To him, robots aren’t things. He thinks of them as people as well. They are his equal and something thugs right at him when he saw one of the crime scene left by the killer. The disciplinary committee then told Raishin that only a “Ban Doll” could’ve killed those robots. These are robots made from natural robots parts…and living beings. It’s not like Robocop though. It’s something more taboo and equally dangerous. Anyways, all this boils down to Charlotte being a suspect. Her automaton is suspected to be a Ban Doll created from a long time ago and it’s up to Raishin to bring down punishment on the killer even if it’s a cute tsundere with a personality that he could easily fall for.
The first arc is very hard to follow. Certain terms aren’t explained properly and you’re left wondering exactly what the hell is going on. You do have a gist of it from the way Raishin goes from one place to another but it’s not enough. The terminologies are crucial and the anime doesn’t have the time to properly explain them. So you’re watching an important scene that you have no idea how it came to such a point. It’s pretty easy to follow though if you can piece things together by yourself. The main goal of the arc is to introduce Charlotte and how crucial of a character she is towards the main story. Most of the scenes in the first arc involve Raishin and her getting along together. The whole thing about the murder is basically where their relationship reaches a crucial point. So if you’ve come to like how Charlotte and Raishin are getting along then this serial killer case would’ve been ice cold water splashed on your face. It was the kind of conflict that would’ve threatened their relationship. It was a definitive climax to this arc. The problem with this arc though is the serial killer case itself. It’s paced fast and poorly established. You’re basically just watching it unfold without any of the key details presented. I especially didn’t like the fact that the case wound up on a place called “the locker room” or something stupid like that. It’s the first time we ever see the place and it’s actually a huge part of the mystery. It became more annoying when the killer is revealed and it flashbacked to a conversation that happened a few episodes ago. Then it added a few important pieces to the same conversation that proved crucial to figuring out who the killer is. The anime withheld information. I’m guessing it’s for dramatic effect for when the shocking reveal is done but it’s a piss poor way to handle it. You might as well have told us aliens did it and the show could’ve gotten away with it simply because the audience has no way to grasp the situation of the arc.
The first arc withheld information and throws out terminologies without giving it a proper explanation but it does have some upside to it. Despite how chaotic the story progresses, it comes to one exciting climax that was good enough to wipe away the sour experience of the arc. It was satisfying to a point because everything does come together even though there were obvious shortcuts in the way it was told. The mystery angle of the arc might’ve sucked but the whole thing about Charlotte and Raishin was pretty entertaining. You can’t go wrong with a tsundere. Their playful conversations were fun to watch because of how cute Charlotte looks. As I said as well, the main goal of this arc is to introduce Charlotte so I think that was handled decently. The way her backstory was handled was also a nice touch considering how messy the rest of the elements were. The show had the right of mind to focus on Charlotte and they did a good job of it.
The second arc is about this girl named Frey. She has been targeting Raishin for some reason and it has got to stop. It turns out though that Frey is a contender in the Evening Party and she’s trying to stop Raishin to participate. She does it in a comedic way though that fails miserably. She might be funny but her situation isn’t. It turns out that Frey is part of an organization called “Divine Works” that is currently doing some shady experiments. Frey’s participation in the Evening Party is due to Divine Works urging her to join. Raishin eventually got wind of this and soon chases down the reason why Frey is being controlled by Divine Works. This leads Raishin into the city where he got to see the shady operation for himself. This also got him noticed by the group and now they want him to die. Frey has a younger brother named Loki with an extremely strong automaton with him. Loki is out for Raishin’s blood. Divine Works has a firm grip on Frey and Loki but Raishin isn’t deterred. He is out to stop Divine Works even if it means getting killed himself.
Much like the first arc, the second arc was confusing as well. It’s more than that actually. It was even messier and harder to follow. It starts out with this girl named Frey but then transforms into something really hard to grasp. All of a sudden, the story shifts to one about her dogs. It then shifts into a story about Raishin and Loki having a rivalry that also shifts into a story about Raishin actually being a spy from the Orient. I mean, seriously. How can follow that? Not only does it shoot off different places, it also has a lot of situations that needs a lot of fleshing out. Too much fleshing out that it cannot be covered in the four episode structure of the arc. Who the hell throws a curve ball of Raishin being a spy without much explanation while using that newly discovered information as a key piece of the story? It’s annoying to keep up to the arc because it was just a hot mess. But again though, the point of this arc is not the shady dealings of Divine Works. It’s to introduce Frey and Loki. Just like Charlotte, they play a huge part in the main story and the Divine Work story was just a way for them to be properly introduced. On that note, the characters were nicely developed to the point that it doesn’t matter if we’re six episodes in and we only discovered Raishin is a spy. We’re too busy being caught up in the hot blooded rumble between him and Loki. We’re also too immersed in enjoying the developing harem that now involves three girls. Just like the first arc as well, the ensuing climax was able to give us a decent payoff. Sure, the plot skewered in a place that had nothing to do with dogs or spying but it had a great fight worth sitting through four messy episodes.
The third and final arc is about the Charlotte and her little sister, Henriette Belew. It starts off with Charlotte attacking the headmaster of the academy destroying a clock tower in the process. She is now a wanted person. This was a bit suspicious for Raishin. Charlotte wouldn’t just attack someone unless she has a good reason. He then discovered that she has a little sister and then spends most of the time dragging out information out of Henriette. It turns out that someone is blackmailing Charlotte and she has no choice but to obey. It has something to do with the Belew family. They were once a prestigious family until one of their automaton dogs attacked the prince. They were stripped off their wealth and Charlotte is now trying to reclaim their lost glory. Trying to kill the headmaster doesn’t help though so something is definitely amiss. Raishin is now out to try and convince Charlotte to stop while figuring out who the blackmailer is. This person has something more special up his sleeves though and it seems he has taken a fancy for Raishin now as well.
At this point in the show, being the last arc, you’re already used to the clusterf*ck presentation of the show. You can follow the story even if it throws a lot of things at you and you can make sure that it will do that a lot. It’s not as overwhelming as the first two arcs though. The characters are all familiar and the situation about Charlotte was brought up in the first arc as well so we’re entering familiar territory. The whole blackmailing story was nicely handled. It had a nice build up and a decent climax to it. I was certainly caught up in the show when they were finally trying to beat the crap out of the baddies. The blackmailing story is really just about Raishin trying to catch up to the situation. Someone is trying to kill the headmaster and they’re also using Charlotte to do so. Raishin spends most of the time figuring out who would go to such lengths. He is also flirting a lot with Henriette as to be expected. This arc has the same focus as the first two. It’s about the introduction of another girl. This time, it’s a younger sister of our resident tsundere. Most of the scenes are about Raishin getting to know Henriette better and then slowly finding out a way to help as well. As you can clearly see, we are seeing a healthy harem slowly forming and it’s looking pretty sweet at this point. Raishin getting close isn’t the only focus of the show. It’s also revisiting his relationship with Charlotte. They seem to be getting a bit more personal ever since the first arc was settled and this blackmail thing was the perfect catalyst for them to confront their feelings for each other. Charlotte has always been a distant person and she seems to be a bit alarmed that she is slowly getting accustomed to Raishin. She doesn’t want to, at first, but it seems that she doesn’t know what she wants anymore. It’s really cute especially after becoming so close to the characters. The final arc was able to give us some decent pay off that would make you like the anime even if you saw one huge clusterf*ck of a story unfold.
Now this anime has one main story. I put it last because elements of this story was scattered throughout the show. It was mixed in with the stories of the arcs so you’re not really sure where they fit. I remember one episode talking about Raishin fighting some guy and then this famous automaton maker drops in for no reason. They talked and then I was left wondering exactly where their conversation fit in the arc. It doesn’t. It’s actually part of the main story. This show is really tricky. Between the lack of explanations, overwhelming info dumping and story progressions without any forewarning, the addition of the main story made it all the more harder to follow the show. Anyways, the main story is about Raishin trying to get into Evening party and taking revenge on this masked guy considered the strongest in the academy. He can control six robots where normal puppeteers can hardly master controlling one. It seems that his revenge plan has an intricate and surprisingly deep backstory that is founded on his relationship with his automaton, Yaya. I’m going to spoil some of the story here so apologies in advance. It started with Raishin witnessing his clan destroyed by a man. He holds his sister’s dead body in his hands as he screams in a building engulfed in flames. He has since decided to take revenge. For him to do that, he need to take up puppetry. He tried to cover as much as he can without stopping and almost dropping dead because of how much he is rushing it. This caught the attention of a famous automaton maker known for giving the fiercest robot to the army. Karyusai Shouko decided to make a deal with Raishin in his half dead state. It turns out that his clan is known for mastering a fearsome technique and, with the clan wiped out, he is the only remaining person that knows this technique. Shouko is interested in him. She decided to give him one of her dolls. He can use it for revenge but know that his body will be hers in case he ever dies. It’s a fair exchange for Raishin and he then sets out on a journey to find clues about his killer. It leads him to Walpurgis Machinart Academy and the Evening Party. Raishin is a guy that isn’t afraid of dying. He would charge after the strongest person in the academy without batting an eye. He would also intervene whenever he sees a problem arise. With his devil may care attitude, it has attracted a bunch of girls to support him.
As the show progresses, we discover who the murderer of his family is. It’s actually deeper than that. It seems that one of this guy’s automatons is constructed with the dead body of someone close to Raishin so his blood boils whenever he sees the automaton. Raishin’s abrasive attitude eventually caught the eye of the person he wants to kill but a lot of other shady individuals as well. They seem to know the importance of Raishin’s clan’s power and the value it holds in advancing automaton technology. They also notice how interesting Yaya is as well. You see, Raishin treats automatons as equal. They’re living breathing humans to him and he respects them as much as any human. This approach to automatons doesn’t fare well for Raishin when he gives too much mana to his robot. Mana powers an automaton and they’re basically magical powers (or MP if you want to be a d*ck about it) a puppeteer holds. Raishin’s charge head first attitude causes not only bodily harm towards himself but he also wastes a lot of mana on Yaya. He gives too much that his life is basically shortened every time he pushes it too far. Yaya seems to be built differently and those shady people are keeping an eye on her as well. They seem to know how much Raishin can handle so they’ll soon be making some moves to find out.
As for the harem, well, the title of Wiseman can only be obtained when you win the Evening Party. The girls that fawn over her eventually befriend each other and forms a strong bond strengthened by adversities. How will these bonds fare when they fight each other on the Evening Party? Better yet, can they point a knife at Raishin knowing how much they love him just to win the title of Wiseman? Pretty interesting, isn’t? This is the main story of the anime in all its convoluted glory. Ok, that’s it. I’m done. It’s a really good main story but the amount of stuff here is spread all over the show and the audience is tasked to piece them together. Good luck with that.
The one thing that really made this anime is special are the characters. Despite the messy progression of the story, the characters managed to keep the anime entertaining. It’s their bright interaction that really saved the show. They’re all generic and clichéd characters but the way they talk to each other is pretty damn cute that you’re often caught up in it. The main character is Raishin. He is a bit of a hard headed tough guy that has a soft spot for girls. Despite looking like a tough guy, he has this chivalrous spirit that drives him to help people out. Even if it’s none of his business, he would walk into an enemy’s hideout and then beat as much bad guy as he possibly can before he passes out. It’s the perfect personality for an anime where characters beat the sh*t out of each other. I also like how weak he actually is yet he still does his best to punch the enemy as hard as he can even if he’s half dead clawing towards the exit. He is always accompanied by his automaton Yaya. She is really cute and really annoying at the same time. She is very protective and caring often trying her best to cheer Raishin up when he’s deep in a trance naked in the shower. She is really close to Raishin that she’ll be happy to die for him. That’s a good robot for a guy that actually has a death wish. Yaya is also a jealous bug. Any girl that gets close to Raishin would send Yaya in a fit. She would claim that Raishin in only his. She even goes as far as trying to sneak in bed with him totally naked. It’s too bad she’s a robot but it’s cool at the same time. The two has a really vibrant relationship that is focused a lot by the show.
The rest of the girls are interesting as well. The show really gave them time to develop and to properly tell their backstories. They also provide a lot of fan service. A lot of fan service, like way too many for a serious show like this one. There is Charlotte, the tsundere. She is a distant person that has trouble befriending people. Raishin has taken a fancy on her though and he does his best to make him drop her guard. As the show progresses, she eventually does but it takes a really big event like a serial killer mystery case to do so. She would often lurk around trying to find a way to prevent Raishin from killing himself or kicking some ass as well when push comes to shove. She has a dragon as an automaton and this makes her a force to be reckoned with. Another girl is Frey. She’s the soft spoken girl with the big rack. Yeah. She is like a comedic relief for the show where she’ll do something stupid but the audience will find it cute and you’ll like her to do more stupid things. It’s complex but that’s what makes her loveable. She isn’t a strong fighter but she is part of the Evening Party. She has a dog that barks out sonic blasts for a robot and it’s really strong. It’s too bad Frey is weak though. It doesn’t stop her from trying and that makes her all the more likeable as a character. Lastly, there is Henriette. She is the younger sister of Charlotte and they look alike. The only difference is the hair color. Oh, Henriette also hates men. She is scared of them but seeing Raishin be so upstanding makes her slowly be fond of the guy. She would mostly scream out how much she hates men but you’ll also see how cute she is when she does approach Raishin. The guy is a tease though and does his best to help Henriette get over her problem of men. She’s a recent transfer so she doesn’t have an automaton with her but she helps out by providing more fan service for the show. This anime need tons of it, you see, to balance out the weak story.
The rest of the characters are pretty decent. Some look like awesome characters you can’t wait for Raishin to take on. Majority of them though are used to lay groundwork for the main story. When they’re not info dumping on you then they’ll try to be comedic. Again, their bright interaction with the rest of the recurring characters really adds a lot to the show. Even if they’re one-dimensional characters or those with really limited roles, they still had their moment of greatness in the show that I’m sure you’ll appreciate. Some of the antagonists and one shot characters are different though. If they’re not being bad guys then they’re info dumping or making the audience question what their actual role is. It’s a minor flaw compare to the messy story. You can’t get past that.
I liked this show. It’s not the best but it had its moment. It kept me tuned in even though I can barely keep up with the story and it does give the audience a decent pay off in the end. The characters elevated the show and I’m glad at least one aspect of the light novel was kept intact in the anime adaptation. This isn’t the first time I watched a convoluted mess so it’s not really surprising to see this one be so overwhelming. I just hope others had enough patience to see the whole thing through. It had fan service so it was a decent show overall. Studio Lerche is a fairly young studio. They adapted Danganronpa so that’s pretty special. I’m sure a few more shows under their belts and this studio will give us something amazing. I’m crossing my fingers. There is great potential in Unbreakable Machine Doll so they should keep on working on how to make light novel anime easier to understand and I’m sure they’ll do wonders. In the meantime, I hope they don’t make another messy show like this one. It had positives but a hug negative that needs working.
Sight and Sound
Character design is pretty great. The characters all have a typical facial design. They have cute faces that are completed by big round eyes that give them a nice “moe” look. I’m actually a big fan of LLO. This person designed a lot of characters in my favorite harem shows. Both Oreshura and Oreiru characters were designed by the same person. The cute faces were the big tell but it is the emphasis on the body of the characters that I really like. The detail work on the outfits and the body proportion is a nice standout. The girls would have really intricate clothing on like a loose kimono draped on the shoulders and full of laces. It catches your attention and you’re able to appreciate the character a whole lot more. The design doesn’t just make a character look pretty but also very sexy. The characters all have nice build that is emphasized by the outfits. From simple sexy waists to big breasts, the intricate design of the clothes made the characters all the more pretty to look at. There is a wide variety of clothing in this show. From the simple school uniform that has a vest that brings attention to the breasts to colorful outfits automaton wears like gothic Lolita with a lot of frills or simple modern clothes with an over emphasis on accessories to give attention to certain body parts. The faces might look innocent but the body tells an entirely different story. I’m not a huge fan of the color palette though. I mean, it does look great on characters because it has a soft color to make the girls more cute and sexy but the lack of black lines to differentiate the background from the foreground is a bit iffy. Even if the color of the hair is different, I’m often caught up at how the design suddenly looks bland simply because it lacks lines to define boundaries. Male characters are different. There is more emphasis on the face than on the body. You’ll notice that most male characters have simple clothes on and mostly capes that hide their body. This lets you put more focus on the face and see the fierce eyes and the handsome features provided in the face.
Animation is pretty outstanding. Studio Lerche did a wonderful job with this one. I think you just have to look at the first episode where Raishin and Yaya tried to stop the runaway train. The camera is free flowing as it pans up then zooms in a fluid motion to give emphasis on the fast motion of the train. When the characters enter the scene, you’ll notice how the movement is fluid as they hop along the bridges and how Yaya would hulk up to stop the train. Fight scenes are amazing in this show. It was part of the pay off the anime gives you after sitting through a messy arc. The high quality animation made sure a character looks badass and the different camera angles employed gives it a really engaging appeal that’ll make you want to see more of it. Yaya’s movements alone are insane. She moves fast while the animation doesn’t miss a frame. It flows fluidly and really elevates the fight scenes. The way automatons fight are insane. It’s really amazing and the animation was able to capture the appeal of two awesome robots trying to kill each other. The anime is very dialogue heavy though so there is more talking than fighting in this show. It gives the fight scenes a lot more importance when you do see it.
The fan service is also pretty outstanding. The simple scenes of Yaya flirting with Raishin are pretty great but the anime often takes things up a notch. There’ll be scenes of Yaya suddenly being naked infront of Raishin trying to seduce him. Nothing is exposed but the skin color alone is pretty great to look at. The rest of the show has close up panty shots and various characters displaying some sort of fan service. They’ll either half naked or showing off some part of their body. It gets a bit rowdy at times but only enough to make you want to see more of the characters. I’m not really sure how fan service fits in the light novel but it did a lot of good things for the anime. I certainly liked it.
The anime’s OP is. This is a pretty ordinary OP. I’m not really fond of the song. It doesn’t attract me as much. The rhythm of the song is really a bit lacking but that’s just my own preference talking. The lyrics are pretty good though. It talks about a love that doesn’t last so the singer is urging to let the sadness overwhelm her before it’s over because she knows her loved one is there to save her. It’s really cute albeit depressing. The Op sequence features all the characters in a short montage. There are a few fan services here and there but nothing serious. It ends with Raishin and another guy fighting with the backdrop of exploding lava surrounding them.
The anime’s ED is. It’s a really energetic song about a bunch of nonsense I’m too lazy to read. It has a fast beat and some cute lyrics to it with the way the characters sing them. It’s about being carefree and not overthinking things. It has nice ring to it but it is also a bit annoying after a few listening. Again, it’s my own preference. The ED sequence features the three dolls created by Shouko simply having a party. Ironically, two of them are very minor characters in the show but I’m told they will soon become Raishin’s doll so that’s pretty exciting. I love the ED sequence. It’s like old school Japanese but with a bunch of crazy characters dancing along with crazy music.
6/10 “It had great characters but an overwhelming story ruins the experience.”
As much as the characters elevated the show, the story is still too much of a clusterf*ck to forgive. This will ruin the anime for you and you’ll be putting too much effort on something that basically leads to little pay off. It had good visuals and certain aspects of the plot that holds tremendous potential but it was still overwhelmed by the weak overall story. If you like cute girls in your anime then you’ll enjoy this one. If you like some decent mystery then you can try this show out. It has cool robots, though it’s not the focus, so you can check this one out. This show requires patience though and a few re-watching to fully appreciate so proceed with an open mind.